It can be a bit hard to find what you want and what your kid likes in the library. There are so many there and if you aren’t familar in the picture book section it can feel like an ocean you are drowning in. A lovely ocean of books but drowning nontheless. Even though I am a reader I have totally been there. Because I hadn’t looked at picture books in such a long time. There was no need.
I am a firm believer that if you go into the picture book section for up to 4 years, there is no way you are going to find a book that will do any damage topic wise. If the level is too high or too long or not in their world as of yet than you will see it in their interest. So there is nothing wrong with experimenting a little with this. The library is great for this because you can just return the book if it doesn’t work.
One of the things that helped me is that a lot of books have an indication as to what age they are for. It helps a lot to decide whether or not this book will work for your kid level wise. The ages aren’t set in stone however. It might be that you notice that a book is said to be for 2 years but is already a great fit for your 18 month old. Go for it. I have a book for Merijn that is officially for 3 years old because of the plaster attached to a ribbon which is in turn attached to the book. But I only read it together with him. He never gets it on his own and he loves it so much. I won’t hold that away from him.
Another thing is knowing what topics your kid loves. Merijn really didn’t care about dressing kind of books for the longest time. He wanted cars and animals with simple drawings. I gave them to him. You can’t force a topic on your child.
The Actual Reading
Also I found that it was good to experiment and see which kind of length he liked with books and in what moments. Merijn can do a longer story for bed and nap time for instance, but during the day he wanted fast and interactive books, preferably with sound and/or flaps. Please don’t feel like your kid has to sit around for a long story time. Some kids can’t sit down that long or don’t have that attention span yet, and that is fine. Just offer them books in whichever shape or form you can.
I had to prepare for a lot of repeating of books. And if you think that is easy. It is not. I knew of the repeating and yet I was not prepared. Try keeping up the intonation in your voice after the fifth read in a row. Or if your kid endlessly wants to read THAT one book. I know some of these books word for word. When husband is reading to Merijn and I hear it I can just say it aloud along with some. It is like having those annoying kid songs stuck in your head on repeat.
Sometimes Merijn’s reading goes along with tearing out pages or flaps. It hurts my book lover heart but they are his books… If you want certain books to be kept safe, keep them out of the kiddies hands. Only read those together.
I also realized you don’t always have to read a book in our pace. I just go along in Merijn’s pace sometimes. This is one of those things that my husband struggles with a lot because he feels that you need to read word for word. But really you don’t have to. I sometimes just discard the story and point at what is on the page if he wants to go through super quickly. Or I summarise the story. And sometimes he turns the page back and I repeat.
One of the things I love is that we have a little Ikea shelf standard where we have his carton books. He can grab those on his own and thumb through. He loves that so much. I just want books to be fun for him. Doing things himself is often so important for them.
I also realized to never worry if Merijn isn’t as interested in books as before. He goes through periods where all he does is read books. Thumb through them himself or ask to be read to. And then he has periods where he barely looks at them and I have to offer to read to him more. That is okay. Our own interest goes up and down with things too.
And yet it is also okay to say, not now. Sometimes it isn’t the time for books. When you are doing the dishes for instance. Merijn has been coming a lot with books at this time. Or to say after reading multiple books that it is time to play or to do something else. You have to enjoy it as well. From other things they learn too.
In the Library
Since around 18 months I’ve been letting him lose in the picture book section in the library. Most days that goes well, other days not so much. It depends on his mood. But he does love running into the picture book section and grabbing a book that is displayed near the couch area and sit down with it. Usually we look at that display and see if the books are age appropriate (ranges from 12 months to 32 months) or topic things I think will catch his attention beyond the cover.
Then I direct his attention more to the area that has books for him and I let him grab books. This is also again directed as much as possible. We put books back that I deem unfit or uninteresting for him right away. (Because there is nothing I find more infuriating than seeing parents letting their kids make a mess of the kids section and leave it there for the librarians to pick up after). By now I know his interest reasonably well and I can see if a book has too much text or isn’t of an interesting topic for him. Sometimes we look at the books in the couch area, other times we check them out right away. It depends on how busy it is and how he is doing.